Guide To Rio De Janeiro (Part One)

Wednesday, 01 May 2013

Words: Wade Davis

Rio is a city for travelling surfers and surfing travellers. It’s a city where landscapes and locals vie for our attentions through wanton displays of aesthetic excellence, where the world’s most beautiful people do the most horrible things to each other. It’s a city where soaring jungle-coated granite spills into yellow sands, where humanity clings to every adherent surface. In Rio beauty is a religion, the beach is the temple, and her Cariocas are all as pious as popes. It’s beautiful and dangerous, and the World Cup and Olympics are going to suck a lot of the danger out of the place so we suggest you get there now.

The tour goes to Rio and rightfully so as the waves are ok, but the atmosphere is unbeatable. Brazil is safest, coldest and most European in the south, and wildest, most interesting, poorest in the tropical north. Rio is sort of at the confluence of the two Brazils, which means there is the greatest human mix of African and European and Japanese and Arab and everything. If you ever doubted multiculturalism go to Rio and look at the people. The much documented social divide in Rio works like this: If you are poor you are going to live on the mountainsides in a favela and be an incredible dancer; you will go to the beach en masse, you probably won’t surf, and you will get sucked out in rips. If you are richer you live down on the flats, surf, do Ju Jitsu and don’t really fraternise with the favela dwellers. Either way you are going to love the beach, worship the sun, and work your body until your torso/toosh glistens and people crack coconuts on/in it.


The Rocinha favela, South America's most populous, spills down to the seaside where, a couple of years ago, gangsters fought a running machine gun battle with the police. Locals assure us that it's now 'pacified' and is even a good spot for a butt shaking night out. Photo: ASP/Dunbar

In Rio you want to stay in Arpoador. This is the corner of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, home to a fun left hand point and is as good a stretch of sand for absolutely everything else that you’ll ever find. When the swell is big enough the WCT event will be held there as it’s a fun-as-fingerbashing wave that’s attached to two of the world’s most famous beaches. If you catch it when it is on you will be pleasantly surprised. The point can get crowded, but try and get one or two, and then move down the beach where the fast righthand barrels that run close to the shore will score you tube time and the adoration of a legion of gorgeous fans. If you’re walking down from the Arpoador left keep going until all the guys and girls in tiny swimsuits are replaced by just guys in tiny swimsuits and then keep going a little further until the guys are again replaced by guys and girls. Then go out, grab some tubes, hit the sand and suck the milk out of a juvenile coconut, whilst sucking in your gut and spraining your neck from high intensity perving.

There are other spots in Rio, like the contest’s regular site at Barra da Tijuca, but this is a little bit of a mission on public transport and a very confusing drive for the uninitiated. If you have local friends check it out, as well as the beaches in the gated communited of Joa (when the security stops you just say you’re there to visit Guilherme), or Sao Conrado under the 600,000 hungry eyes of South America’s largest slum, Rocinha, which spills up the hill behind the beach. You should also visit Copacabana beach, which is the spot for stand-up paddle boarding, people watching, drinking and maybe getting mugged. If watermanship and core strength float your goat boat check out Soul Rio Surf, which is the second SUP joint from the fort. The guys and gals there will also happily take you partying and kiss your face, or force you to kiss other people’s faces.

John John will be a no show this year thanks to his ankle. Photo: Kirstin

The defending champ, John John Florence, won't make it to this year's Billabong Pro due to his ankle injury sustained during the first event of the year, the Quiksilver Pro. Photo: ASP/Kirstin

Apart from waves there are girls with beautifully bulbous buttocks playing volleyball in ze teeniest bikinis and guys sculpted from tanned marble playing volleyball with their feet. You can buy beers and cocktails everywhere on the sand for next to nothing and without fear of persecution and everyone walks up and down the shoreline and looks at everyone else and everyone looks at them. On Sundays they close the streets that run parallel to the sand and guys and gals gyrate their hips to propel their long skateboards up and down the boulevard, as bands play funk and samba and jazz and everyone else drinks beers and looks wonderful.

Surfing Life recommends going to the beach when you are in Rio and staying there, you could do other stuff, but we wouldn’t, so for info on that consult your trusty dog eared Lonely Planet travel guide. We’ll be sitting right here in the sand. Now pass us another coconut you sexy, sexy bastard.

Tomorrow: Sex and coconuts and big butts.


  • Ethan Ewing

    Get to know the Vans US Open people's champ!

    more »
  • Big O, out

    For the remainder of the 2016 season

    more »
  • JBay Day Five: Talking Points

    Bru, you blew it!

    more »
  • JBay Day Four: Talking Points

    Quarterfinalists decided

    more »
  • An Anatomy of Jeffreys Bay

    How and why she works

    more »
  • JBay Day Two: Talking Points

    Day Two, Round Two

    more »
  • JBay Day One: Talking Points

    It began in Africa

    more »
  • It's JBay Day!

    Nick Carroll's forecast of all things Jeffreys

    more »
  • Eliminations begin at the Fiji Pro

    Skulldrags for the losers.

    more »
facebook icon instagram icon twitter-btn rss-btn

Get the latest surfing news and photos, swell forecasts, competitions and hilarious trivia delivered to your inbox.